Saturday, March 30, 2013

Spring Run-off and Flash Flooding

Okay, those sound like frightful words...and I suppose they can be.

But there is nothing in the world like sitting on a rock near a ravine and hearing the distant sound of water rushing down over the rocks.

You pick a safe place and get yourself ready, both with a video camera and of course a regular digital camera.

At this point Morris was climbing my back, yes, he is smarter than I am.  He knows how to be scared of 'that' noise.
In truth, it is an awesome noise.
A noise that reminds you that you are nothing compared to Mother Nature.
It is almost like hearing a Tornado arrive.  It is frightening, yet ... you want to see it.      
Well it was awesome.
After 10 minutes I waded back across the creek and continued my walk.

I shot dozens of photos in the past couple of days.
I need to sort through them. 
Snow-melt run off was absent last year.  
And this year I was lucky enough to witness the flood of water from the ridges not once, but twice!



Friday, March 29, 2013

Watermark your Photos?

Why should you watermark your photos or put something on them to remind others that this belongs to you?

One of the best ways I've read over and over to prevent theft of any photo posted on the internet is...

Simply do not post them.
Honestly though we live a life of social media where we love to share.  We love to share on Facebook, Flickr, and other forms of social media.

One of the best ways to share photos in such places like FB is to post a small sized photo at 72dpi.  It can be clearly seen on the screen and admired.  It looks nice.

Someone copies it and decides to make a nice 8X10 photo for framing and...well it looks like pixelated blurs. 

The above shot was edited in a free on line editing program called PicMonkey. I resized it and added the Mulewings Logo in about 2 minutes. 
Here is a screen shot of PicMonkey:
I use a drop shadow for the print here so that it stands out from the backround.
In this first screen you can crop, rotate, fix exposure, edit your colors, sharpen, and resize.
Pretty nifty right?
Then there is all the fun stuff you can do.  Some of it is blocked unless you 'upgrade' to PicMonkeys paid program. I don't find that necessary.  
I also recommend iPiccy, for fun. 
Quick edit of an ice flow In iPiccy:

Why go out and spend $100's of dollars on pricey photo editing when you are not a professional and are a beginner?

I'm doing this series of 'help' tutorials for beginner photographers, who are just learning a bit more about photography.

I hope next time to touch base on what functions most point and shoot pocket cameras have.
And how to use them to your best advantage.

Look forward to an easy sunrise & sunset secret that some folks don't know.    

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


Yes, Spring is coming!  This morning we saw a Robin!
Yesterday I heard redwing black birds.  The day before I saw a blue Heron at the Genoa boat landing.

So there is hope!

Yesterday I took a brief walk late to see if the snow was melting.  A nice slow melt is what we need this year so the ground can soak it up.

I was tickled to go down by the creek and watched this.
It wasn't flowing hard because there was so much ice in it.
Further down our creek bottom ... it was bone dry.
So I expect that the water will soon be coming that way.

I'll see what I can find today!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Still Winter

Things look to be getting warmer towards the end of next week.
The stronger sun is aiding in the slow snow melt.
I walked down to the creek yesterday and although the temperature was 32 in the felt much warmer in the sun.

I decided to try out my new Neutral Density Filter on some flowing water.
Well, the water was not really flowing in the creek, just seeping so I had to find out something else to try with the filter.

I set up the camera on a tripod and made some manual adjustments.  I was able to use the ND filter to get a 10" exposure.
I hit the delay for 12 seconds and then tried walking through the frame.

I only showed up as a very light blur.
So then I tried walking into the frame and standing still for a few seconds, until I heard the shutter release.

I made myself into a ghost!

The snow was hard in some places, soft in others.  I will have to make sure that I use snowshoes the next time I hike, hopefully this afternoon.

The sun and the shadows however did make for some nice black and white shots.
I can't wait until the snow does melt and I get to see some green!  Even some moss would be a nice relief right now.
Spring is here by the calendar, but it sure doesn't quite seem like it yet.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Fractal Fun and Art?

Are Fractals really Art?

I'm pretty sure it is.  I've been looking around and finding some incredibly beautiful images by 'Fractal Artists'. has some incredible artists that work in 3d.  While beautiful does it please you?
Does it make you want to hang it on your wall?
Or do you believe that anything generated via computer is not Art?

One of my favorite deviants is Len1, go ahead and check his gallery out.  He not only creates beautiful Mandelbulb 3d art, but works in other forms of fractals also.
He post edits some of his work which I think sometimes is essential to get the wow effect.

I recently read a review of an artists work.  The reviewer said something like this.  
"The colors are pretty.  But what does it mean?  What emotion is it meant to cause for me?"

I thought about that comment a lot.  The reviewer has a good point.  The above fractal is interesting.  But seriously I doubt it will be found any time soon on someone's living room wall, or in a waiting room.

I sometimes try to 'create' a scene or just let my imagination run wild.
I made this 'piece' out of the above fractal and then added some figures, layers of clouds, it is a composite of sorts.
Mandelbulb 3d for backround image.
Dragon lower right side: [link]
Dragon upper left side:[link]
Overlay of my own cloud texture.

So is this considered my own art?  Or just a pretty creation.  Of course, I'll let you the reader decide that.

What is the allure of fractal art?
To me, it is about creation of beauty.  Sometimes it only has to please me and no one else.
I find myself working on this as much as my photography lately.

Partly because Spring has forgotten to arrive, I think.
However I can see some of my art [Zenfolio link] plastering my living room walls with colors, it may not please my husband, but it sure would please me.

Does fractal art have a place in the Art World?  I think it does right along side digital painting and other photographic wild manipulations.



Sunday, March 17, 2013

Scratching the Itch

Mr. Morris was tucked under my arm as I scooted out the back door.  Hubby was taking his afternoon nap.  A pork roast was slow cooking and the afternoon looked sunny and bright.

We hurried quietly picking our way around the icy driveway and up between the buildings towards the woods.
Morris jumped out of my arms and began to race ahead of me.

He was happy.  He raced ahead of me so that he can have time to sniff all things important and watch me as I am coming.

In no time flat we made it to the creek bed.  I marched along the rocky strewn bottom picking my way over icy areas and areas of water.

I stopped to look at turkey and raccoon tracks.  
Morris tended to dog business.

We covered ground swiftly and headed east into the wind and through the valley.  I was looking for something different today, not the usual fair of water, rocks, and ice.
We found tracks of a person who had hiked on the snowmobile trail.  I considered taking the logging road to the back valley but it was solid ice.

I walked mostly in the creek bed.  Even with the rain and the snow melt, the creek hadn't come up to its previous level.

I cut up towards the huge dry run that ran north.  The boulders were covered in snow and ice and I could here water trickling faintly in spots.

 I decided to see how far up the ravine I could climb before getting out.

 I followed the ice flows.  Or...should I say where the runoff water had cut through the ice in between the boulders.

It was impressive to see what running water can do.  I'd like to be near this spot when the next big melt occurs.

I literally had to climb the wall of this ravine to get out.  It was not as difficult as it would be in the summer.  I was able to stomp my boot toes into the side of the snow and create footholds.

Thoroughly tired from the climb, I decide to walk across the cropland and stay on the ridge to head home. 
The walking on the ice crusted snow was difficult but the views I got were worth it.

 And Mr. Morris and I headed towards home.
 He is sleeping soundly in 'his' easy chair.

I scratched my itch.  I wanted to hike and we went for a very long tough one.

A few times I wished I'd had a mule, but it is still too icy. 

Catch up and Catch all...

So seriously, who ordered this next round of winter weather?  2-4 inches of snow with 40mph winds!

Whoops, I have to go to work.
Okay no problem.
I have the JEEP.  It sucks the gas, but takes me through bad weather.

Okay enough about the bad weather.  It will melt anyways soon enough.  Right.
Just like all the solid ice in my yard.  Who knew I'd have to wear cleated snowshoes to hang out my laundry today?
It is freeze-drying as I type.

Well, it will smell fresh.

A couple of days ago, hubby came with me on a walk.  We had a great time just walking and talking while going through the woods.

Last night he informed me that he has picked up the 'crud'.  Now if my son reads this he and his wife should not feel bad.  It took a whole week for the symptoms to come up...who knows where it came from?

Well today the sun is shining! And I've got the itch to take a walk.  Sure it is icy, but I have those awesome cleats on my snowshoes.
The March sun is actually warm and since the forecast says I won't see it again for a few days, I think I'll venture out.

Okay, I have cabin fever.  I need to get out!
My body says go...go ... go!

I really wish I could ride, but alas the March ice has even the mules and cattle stepping carefully.

Well off to the wild white yonder...with snowshoes of course!


Friday, March 15, 2013

Wonderful Kids

I was looking forward to the weekend visit of my son and his wife.   My husband commented on the fact that I was going about like some nutcase, doing a super ... duper ... job of cleaning the house.

Yes, I should be keeping up on it at all times right?
Well I don't.
Not when the great Outdoors calls my name.

The 'kids' showed up and I was estatic.  We had been worried as to whether or not the Mini would make it through the soft muddy lower driveway.
It did.

The weather forecast for their weekend visit was horrid.  Rain, sleet, rain, freezing rain, snow...okay, so what IS the difference between sleet and freezing rain?

Anyway, we spent the first night visiting and catching up.  I got to see Ed's new computer.  I was impressed, it was super cool.  I was thinking to myself how handy that would be to have in the future if it was powerful enough to edit photographs.
Small and easy to take along.  Better than my large laptop.

Teslin and Morris got reacquainted with a few growls, a few yips and lots of chasing around.  As the two dogs get older, this lasts less and less time.  It used to take a day for them to settle down.  Now, it only takes an hour or so.

Big Surprise on Sunday.
We went to town to grab some groceries the roads were pretty awful.  Water ran across parts of the gravel roads and it was raining and sleeting.

As we were getting ready to leave the store the 'kids' directed me to the electronics area and insisted that hubby and I accept a gift of a flat screen TV.

That was huge.  I was flabbergasted and stunned.

However I didn't say no and we are now enjoying watching movies streamed from my laptop on a very nice 32" screen while sitting on the love seat...instead of watching them while sitting in metal folding chairs at the computer desk.

The rest of their visit was taken over by an nasty cold they both caught.  We were able to have one day of fun out in the woods between snow and sleet...and freezing rain.
I must say that I really understood that they wanted to get home where they could be sick in their own house and familiar surroundings.
But I was so sorry to see them leave.

Here's to having a great family.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Something New!

Yesterday I received an email from the Cygnus Studios.  I've known Steve for a while now.  I met him on a photography forum and then followed him to a site called Press The Shutter where I became a moderator.

On this site I was encouraged by fellow digital photographers to start a project and expand my horizons just a bit beyond hiding behind the camera.  The forum members kept encouraging me to take things a step further.

Out of their slight nudges came a self published book that I did through Blurb called The Sleeping Forest to follow up a 2009 book I'd done called The Enchanted Forest.
The books were a hit in my small neighborhood.
I didn't get wealthy selling copies.  In fact I think I made about 10 sales at about $5 profit for sale.
It was a labor of love, and not a money making venture.

Aside from straight photography, I've dabbled in manipulated photography.  I've tried to make photos look like paintings, I've used PS quite extensively to create what I wanted to call 
Phart-ography.  Instead I went the less painful route and have called it PhotoArt.

My addiction to creativity didn't end there.  With encouragement from Flickr friends and fellow photographers, I began to try and create something with a 'blank' canvas.
In short, I decided to use my computer as a large box of crayolas.

I dabbled in fractals.
I started doing that in 2007.  Fractal Explorer was the first program I ever tried.
I couldn't just leave well enough alone, I had to manipulate it of course.

 Then the programs became more interesting.  I worked with programs like Incendia, Mandelbulb 3d, Bryce, Apophysis 7X, and recently JWildfire.

Things began to get more involved and interesting.  I began to mix my fractals together trying to create 'something'.  
How does one get from a blank 'canvas' to a finished piece?

I start to play with the creation, experiment.  And when it 'feels' right I save it.

So what was the email about?  Steve Cygnus contacted me regarding a new internet magazine that he is compiling.  The magazine makes its Inaugural issue in May this year. 
The name of the magazine is Artist's Culture.

Check out updates on Facebook at Artists Culture

I am honored that Steve will be featuring some of my art.

My art is now available at Zenfolio, Mulewings~ PhotoArt.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013


If you like fractals, Apophysis 7X, Mandelbulb 3D, or just abstracts with beautiful colors, then you will enjoy JWildfire.

Here are some of the finished fractals I've just done.
The above fractal was made using a photograph of mine for the colors.

Keep in mind some are just random with some color tweaks and a couple are ones I made following a tutorial from the site:
JWildfire| Andreas Maschke
You can download from the link he provides.
I strongly suggest anyone new to the program start from the beginning of the PDF files that Andreas has written and can be downloaded from his site.
Next one should definitely watch the YouTube tutorials of how to install the program and an introduction to the basics by FlinkDimensions.  
These are from older previous versions of JWildfire, but they give you some basic understanding of how things work.

JWildfire also has a Facebook Group.  This is an extremely handy place to share parameters and ask questions.  The group consists of extremely nice folks.  They point you to tutorials and even answer some of my 'dumb' questions.

The above designs was used with a script to transform the fractal.  I love how it turned out.
The above is a simple screen shot of the work space.  Most all of the buttons are explained in the YouTube videos and if you've worked with fractals, you can figure most of this out.

Above is the Interactive Renderer Screen.
Here you can save a partial render 
save an image, stop or continue to work
in the flame editor.
I can see working on many flames 
at once...but I don't think I have
enough RAM for that.
I haven't used this as much as the Batch
Flame Renderer but it is fun to
watch the flame appear.
This is the bottom of the screen from the Interactive

There are several ways to control colors.
There is a flame library called 'Lib'.
You can grab a gradient from your own photos
in more than one way.
This is explained in the PDF tutorials.
It is a bit above my head to try it here.

You can use the Random flames or pick a
particular type of flame from top left of the
Flame Editor screen.
Caution.  If you see one you really like
and may want to use later.
SAVE it!

I used colors from a Mandelbulb Fractal that I'd done a few days ago for this one.
I just kept experimenting and doodling until I felt I had something that I could render.

I use batch render quite a bit.  
I can start a couple of renders and then leave the computer to 'render' away while I make supper or go out and help with chores.

If you like creating graphics, try this out.
It is almost addicting!

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Random Act of Kindness

Today I decided to pop into Wally World and return something when I picked up some photos I had done of the grand kids to put on the 'kid' wall at home...

I could've raced ahead of this man in the check out, but for some reason I didn't.  I thought I could see him struggling a bit.

I could have skipped that line like others and gone to the service desk.  I had 4 photos to pay for.

I stood quietly behind this gent and then he turned to me and said "I hope you aren't mad at me, you only have one thing, wanna go first?"  

It was immediately apparent that he'd had a stroke or some sort of damage.  His speech was poor and his mouth was tilted to the side when he spoke.

I said, "No, go ahead, I'm fine."  I didn't add my favorite line my father used to use.
"You sure?"
Me:  "I'm sure."
Him:  "You know I went to the hospital here in town and they said I was gonna die in five months or have heart attack."  He shrugged.  

I wasn't sure of what to say.

Him, putting groceries on the belt a bit shakey. "I went to St. Francis."  

He stopped and began to put all of his items on the belt.  Now I knew what he meant.  He was in the 20 or less isle and he had 20 or more items.  Didn't matter to me.  For some reason I wasn't bothered.
Him:  "I went to St. Francis Hospital. I hope I did this right, I need 3 dollars for the cab."  He began to look worried and I saw by the items he was buying that he was choosing a surprisingly healthy diet.

I asked, "And what happened at St. Francis?"  Honestly, I wanted to know.
Him, shrugging.  "Oh they kept me over night.  It is going to cost me.  But they gave me different medicine..."  He mumbled and clutched his cash.
I lifted my hands as if asking for more.

"Oh I think they don't like me in THAT hospital [meaning the one in our town which has a notorious record of being not so very good].  They said I was gonna die."  He stopped talking to me as the cashier rang up his total.

His shoulders fell.  He looked over his shoulder and around then back at her.  He said something I couldn't hear.  The cashier looked embarrassed and began to pull items slowly from his cart.
She subtracted the item and told him the total.  He looked crestfallen.
She took out the orange juice and told him that it only took off $1.99. 
He sighed.
"I really need that," he slurred out.

I put my hand in my pocket and felt the $11.00 I'd gotten as a refund.  Oh hell.
I couldn't believe I was doing this.

I stepped forward and asked the cashier what he needed to make his purchase.  And to have cab fair too.
She look startled.  "Eleven dollars."
I put the cash in her hand and said, "Take this, he needs his groceries."

She turned to the man and put his orange juice back in his bag.  She said to him.
"It is okay now.  It is paid for, okay?"
She motioned at me.  "She paid for it."

His eyes grew very wide.
"Oh.  Thank you.  You didn't have...I..."
I motioned and shrugged, "I got a refund," I offered not knowing why I had done what I had done.

When I looked up the cashier smiled at me, as did the man with the very crooked grin.  Now I was embarrassed.
He left.
I paid for my photos. 
The cashier leaned over and said with a glowing smile, "You are a wonderful person.  Feels good doesn't it?"

Now it was my turn to mumble.
"Um, sure.  I just couldn't let him go without groceries today."  I swept up my purchase and wondered why I sometimes do the things I do.

Then it struck me.
I'd just done A Random Act of Kindness.
And it felt okay.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Free Fractal Programs

This time of year I usually get a bit bored of winter and find myself dabbling in 3D art and graphics. 
My last Mandelbulb 3d creation was posted on Flickr and jumped to something like #159 in Explore.  I'm not sure how Flickr's site works, but it is a nice honor to get a rating like that.

Perhaps it was the colors, who knows?

I like Apophysis 7X for flames, and I found another program called JWildfire that is really quite fun!

I've even joined the group on facebook so I can keep up with new updates, colors, and tutorials.  It is quite a nice group of people working hard on an open source program.  The creator hinted that the next version may be the last version of 'Open'.  I'm not sure, but perhaps then the program will be for sale? 

The images are fun and pretty fascinating.  I like to swap back and forth between the programs to get a little relief from Cabin Fever.

The above fractal was edited in PS.  Some of these effects can directly be done in JWildfire I understand but I haven't figured out quite how to do it yet.  Obviously I need to read through more tutorials.

 This last one is from some Mandelbulb 3d.  One of the great things is that you can find other people who will share parameters for their 'bulbs' on different sites.
These parameters came from Len1 on devianART.
Edited with PS and Flaming Pear plug in called Flood.

Many thanks to his sharing.

Keep in mind that Apophysis 7X, Mandelbulb 3d, and JWildfire are free graphic programs available for downloads.
There are many tutorials out there to help anyone along.
Sure cure for cabin fever.


Saturday, March 02, 2013

Bring on Spring!

I'm really waiting on Spring.
I know, you never thought you'd hear me say THAT!

Yes I do love winter.  But it seems to be dragging on a bit much this year.  Last year we were spoiled by an nice warm March and April.

The sun is so much stronger now.  Hard to believe that daylight savings time is just around the corner.
If I am correct, it is next Sunday.  That means light longer in the evening, something we all sort of crave.

I am busy thinking ahead to all the work Spring will bring.  The flower beds around the house and the garden next to the outhouse are still buried in snow and ice.
Yet I am anxious to get at them and rake out the old stuff and smell the dirt warming in the sunlight.

I suppose I'll get over that fairly quickly after working on it for a day or two!  Then my mind will turn to things I wanted to do all winter.
Start Nikki and Eddie, the donkeys under saddle.
Ride Siera, Opal, and Sunshine.

Start working and planning on my summer garden.
Green Beans.
More lettuce and some tomatoes. 
Simple and what we like to eat a lot of.

The Dexter Boys went in to be processed on Monday.  Hubby went to pick up their heads today.  I am going to de-flesh them and clean them up.  I plan on keeping the one with the loveliest horns and selling the other one.

Doesn't everyone want a small bull head with horns to decorate their house with?

I talked to my mom the other day.  She recieved 12" of snow when we had a dusting.  I told her she could keep it.
I'm still thinking about Spring!

...and lots of shedding mule hair!